03/24/2010 11:00PM

Never On Sunday will build off last


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Never On Sunday's North American debut was a good one. Trainer Patrick Biancone is expecting his start Sunday to be even better when Never On Sunday returns in the Grade 3, $150,000 Pan American at Gulfstream Park.

Never On Sunday, a Group 1 winner in his native France in 2009, finished third but was ultimately placed second making his U.S. bow here seven weeks ago in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap. Never On Sunday, a son of Sunday Break, lagged well off the pace in the nine-furlong Gulfstream Park Turf, veered out sharply while commencing his rally at the top of the stretch, and then finished best of all. He was beaten less than two lengths by Take the Points, who was subsequently disqualified and placed fifth.

"He should improve and be much better off his last race," Biancone said. "The main thing I'm trying to do is space his races as best I can. He's a 5-year-old, and I don't want to overrun him. Besides, all the big races in the division are later in the year."

Never On Sunday is clearly the class of the Pan Am field, having made each of his last five starts against Group 1 or Grade 1 competition. The key question when assessing his chances will be his ability to stay 1 1/2 miles. Never On Sunday has won twice at 1 1/4 miles but has never raced beyond that distance during his career.

The Pan Am has lured its share of long-winded specialists, a group led by graded stakes winners Winchester and Expansion. The race also marks the south Florida return of Brass Hat, winner of the Grade 1 Donn Handicap over the main track here in 2006.

Winchester finished second behind Presious Passion in the Grade 2 Mac Diarmida at 1 3/8 miles earlier in the meet but remains winless since capturing the Grade 1 Secretariat in his U.S. debut during summer 2008.

Expansion won the 11-furlong, Grade 2 Red Smith Handicap in his 2009 finale but was never a factor while finishing fifth in the Mac Diarmida. Expansion will share high weight of 123 pounds with Never On Sunday in the Pan Am.

Brass Hat has become pretty much a turf specialist in his later years. Now 9, Brass Hat captured the Grade 3 Louisville Handicap and also was third in the Grade 1 United Nations during a 2009 campaign in which he eclipsed the $2 million mark in career earnings.